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My Garden Diary

March and April 2015

Copyright © 2015 by David E. Ross

Many years ago, when I first started my Web site, I created an online diary of my gardening activities and observations. However, with work and the commute from Hell, I was often so tired I had to choose between maintaining my garden and maintaining my diary. Sometimes, I did neither. In 1998, I stopped my diary and removed the pages from my Web site.

Now I am retired. I am well-rested and have plenty of time to both garden and maintain a diary. This diary is primarily for my own benefit, so that I can look back upon what I did and when. But I thought others might also be interested, so here it is.

Also see What's Blooming in My Garden Now?


Diary entries for 2004 through 2012

January-February 2013
March-April 2013
May-June 2013
July-August 2013
September-October 2013
November-December 2013
January-February 2014
March-April 2014
May-June 2014
July-August 2014
September-October 2014
November-December 2014
January-February 2015

Entries below are in reverse order (latest at the top). Daily, I might stoop to pull a weed or use a hose to water some potted plants; however, I don't consider those significant gardening activities. Thus, you will not see daily entries. Also, I might accumulate a few entries before updating this page on the Web.

When plants have well-known common names, their scientific names are given only the first time they appear on this page (entry closest to the bottom). There, the common name is in bold or appears as a link to another Web page.

Dates refer to other entries in the same year as the entry in which they appear unless a different year is given. However, they may refer to entries on prior pages.

Date and Weather Observations and Activities
12 April

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 52-83
Winter chill: 102 hours
Humidity: 28%
Wind: 0-14

Rain —
This season: 8.22
Week: 0.07
Days since last: 5

Groomed the 'Perlette' grape on My Hill. I removed a new shoot from the trunk and tied other shoots to the support wire.

I wanted to spray Roundup (a broad-spectrum herbicide) on weeds on My Hill, but there was a breeze that would have endangered plants I do not want to kill. Thus, I put this task off for another day.

Pruned the Artemesia 'Powis Castle'. I lightly trimmed the four plants that I planted last year from rooted cuttings, in two cases only cutting the branch tips to promote bushy growth. I severely pruned the three older plants. When they all start to show new growth, I will give them some fertilizer.

All cuttings from a 'Simply Marvelous' rose are defunct.

9 April

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 51-75
Winter chill: 102 hours
Humidity: 19%
Wind: 0-11

Rain —
This season: 8.22
Week: 0.07
Days since last: 2

Since the 7—April diary entry, we had more night temperatures at or below 45°F. Unfortunately, that gives no benefit to my peach tree, which is near the end of its bloom, or to my various Narcissus, which already tried half-heartedly to bloom.

Potted the only annuals I plant in my garden: basil (Ocimum basilicum) and dill (Anethum graveolens). I also moved into a larger pot a gift hybrid amaryllis (Hippeastrum), which had just finished blooming. I then moved a seedling valley white oak (Quercus lobata) into a larger pot; I started this seedling from an acorn dropped by the oak in front of my house (6 Oct 2013). I wanted to replace the potted chrysanthemum on the patio with the rooted cuttings (19 Feb and 29 Mar); but I had not made enough of my potting mix. I did have enough mix to move those cuttings into a larger pot.

Fed the dwarf citrus, gardenia (G. jasminoides 'Veitchii'), and Australian tea tree (Leptospermum laevigatum) with ammonium, iron, and zinc sufates. I also gave the tea tree a little Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate).

Fed the roses with ammonium sulfate.

7 April

Partially cloudy, some sun, cool

Temp: 43-70
Winter chill: 102 hours
Humidity: 60%
Wind: 0-16

Rain —
This season: 8.15
Days since last: 18

At the gardens where I am a docent, I broke off a shoot of black bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra) growing where it should not. I am trying to root it in water, a prior attempt in soil failed.

Late in the night, we actually got a little rain — 0.07 inches and too little to make a difference locally. Since this was all after noon, the results will appear in the next diary entry. Heavier rain and even substantial snow fell in northern California, which might indeed make a difference in the drought.

We also got overnight temperatures below 45°F for about 5 hours. However, none of this can be considered contributing to winter chill — which affects plant dormancy — since none of my plants are still dormant.

5 April

Mostly (not entirely) cloudy, some sun, and cool

Temp: 50-71
Winter chill: 102 hours
Humidity: 47%
Wind: 4-20

Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis) threatens to supercede seedlings from The Tree as the most common weed in my back yard. It is quite dense in the east and camellia beds. I pulled a bucket full of small plants today.

Trimmed the edges of the path separating the back lawn and rose bed, getting almost half way from the west bed to the circular bed.


Rain —
This season: 8.15
Days since last: 16

2 April

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 52-78
Winter chill: 102 hours
Humidity: 14%
Wind: 3-20

Rain —
This season: 8.15
Days since last: 13

The nephthitis (Syngonium podophyllum) cuttings (19 Feb) are well rooted. I trashed the parent plant and used its pot for the cuttings, with some fresh potting mix.

Topped the Christmas heather (Erica canaliculata 'Boscaweniana') in front to make it grow more bushy.

Finished trimming along path in back between the lawn and the west bed. This included trimming around sprinkler heads in the lawn. Next, I will be trimming between the lawn and the rose bed, maybe this coming weekend.

Groomed the 'Black Monukka' grape on My Hill. I removed new shoots from the trunk, pinched the tips of some shoots, and tied other shoots to the support wire.

Cleopatra is awake. So far, however, all she wants to do is bask in the sun.

29 March

Clear, sunny, and hot

Temp: 63-87
Winter chill: 102 hours
Humidity: 16%
Wind: 2-12

The cuttings of a 'Simply Marvelous' rose (10 Mar) seem to be failing. On the other hand, at least one — if not more — of the spoon-flowered chrysanthemum (C. morifolium) cuttings (19 Feb) seem to have rooted.

Started trimming the edges of the paths in back. First, I trimmed the west end of where the lawn meets the main patio. Then I continued on both sides of the path between the west bed and lawn to the potted dwarf 'Eureka' lemon (Citrus limon 'Eureka').


Rain —
This season: 8.15
Days since last: 9

26 March

Clear, sunny, and hot

Temp: 70-89
Winter chill: 102 hours
Humidity: 10%
Wind: 2-17

Rain —
This season: 8.15
Days since last: 6

After searching for almost a year, I finally found it! When a wind storm a year ago broke three major limbs (30 Apr 2014) from The Tree, the tree service crew stepped on my Camellia sasanqua 'White Doves' and broke it off at the soil. I was unable to find a replacement until this past weekend. Today, I planted it in the rose bed after amending the soil with peat moss, compost, gypsum, and bone meal.

After applying a light amount of soil sulfur, I mulched the camellia bed with the output from my office shredder. I also applied some sulfur to the C. sasanqua 'Jean May' in the rose bed, which appears slightly chlorotic (a symptom of alkaline soil).

The exceptionally warm 2014-2015 winter has impaired the blooming of my various Narcissus and other spring bulbs. My peach tree also is failing to leaf out well.

Oops! My 'Pride of Dorking' azaleas are not finished blooming (15 Mar), but I cannot "unfeed" it.

19 March

Clear except for a thin haze, sunny, and mild

Temp: 53-78
Winter chill: 102 hours
Humidity: 47%
Wind: 0-13

Rain —
This season: 8.14
Days since last: 16

There was a brief rain shower last night, too scant to measure. As of the beginning of this month, the 12 most significant California reservoirs contained only 45% of their combined capacity. On 1 March, the water content of the statewide snowpack in the mountains — usually a more important store of water than the reservoirs — was only 20% of the average for that date. Yes, the drought continues.

All of today's tasks involved grooming the front yard.

  • Trimmed the edges of the pink clover (Persicaria capitata) lawn along the driveway, public sidewalk, brick path to the front door, and the shrub beds.
  • Gave the mailbox a "haircut", trimming the dwarf English ivy (Hedera helix 'Hahn's') growing on it.
  • Also trimmed the dwarf English ivy growing under the liquidambar tree (L. styraciflua).
  • Severely pruned the eugenia growing against the front of my house, after which I fed it with a house-brand of 27-0-6 lawn food.
15 March

Cloudy, gray, and warm

Temp: 70-88
Winter chill: 102 hours
Humidity: 16%
Wind: 2-16

Rain —
This season: 8.14
Days since last: 12

My oregano is not dead after all (4 Mar). I now see little green shoots in the flower pot. For a change, all of the wax-leaf begonias around the dwarf tangelo (Citrus reticulata × paradisi) survived the winter.

Fed the front and back yards with a house-brand of 27-0-6 lawn food. I did not feed the red fescue (Festuca rubra) in back because I already fed it earlier (19 Feb). Also, I did not feed the roses, dwarf citrus, camellias, or azaleas. I already fed the roses less than two weeks ago (4 Mar).

Today, I used a commercial citrus food plus a pinch of zinc sulfate on the citrus, and I used a commercial azalea food on the camellias — both the C. japonica and the C. sasanqua — all of which have finished blooming. I also used that same food on the 'Pride of Dorking' azalea, which also finished blooming; the other azaleas are still in bloom. I prefer to wait until after they flower before feeding the camellias and azaleas. My Hill and those azaleas still in bloom remain to be fed.

Except for the roses, citrus, and shrubs that are severely pruned, I feed my garden only once each year. Having determined that the eugenia (Syzygium paniculatum) against the front of the house and the mock orange (Pittosporum tobira) along the east side of the front need to be renovated this spring, I skipped feeding them now.

One valley white oak (Quercus lobata) seedling (27 Nov 2013) is in leaf. The other one is dead. I gave the live one a tiny pinch of ammonium sulfate fertilizer. I gave the same dose of ammonium sulfate to several other outdoor plants that are in small pots.

10 March

Overcast, hazy sun, and warm

Temp: 57-82
Winter chill: 102 hours
Humidity: 17%
Wind: 1-9

With permission from the manager at the garden where I am a docent twice each week, I took two cuttings of 'Simply Marvelous' roses, which I am now attempting to root. This florabunda has not been available in southern California for several years.

Rain —
This season: 8.14
Days since last: 7

8 March

Clear, sunny, and warm

Temp: 63-78
Winter chill: 102 hours
Humidity: 17%
Wind: 2-14

Rain —
This season: 8.14
Week: 0.84

What a difference a few days makes in the weather! Today's low was only 2°F lower than the high temperature reported in the immediately prior diary entry.

Moved the Cymbidium orchid back outdoors, where it really belongs. (I can't find a diary entry for when I first brought it indoors to show off three sprays of flowers.) However, I think I see at least two more shoots that will produce flowers, at which time I will bring it back indoors. In the meantime, both Phalaenopsis orchids in the greenhouse window now have flower shoots but no flowers yet.

The humming birds — both mother and children — left their nest (19 Feb), so I trimmed the potted weeping Chinese banyan (Ficus benjamina) on the front porch. Then, with its weekly watering, I gave it a small amount of ammonium sulfate.

4 March

Clear, sunny, and cold

Temp: 49-65
Winter chill: 102 hours
Humidity: 26%
Wind: 0-20

Rain —
This season: 8.14
Week: 1.11

We finally had more winter chill, 29 hours at or below 45°F since the beginning of the month and 30 hours since my last diary entry. Since my roses already have flower buds, I think this is too little and too late. We also got some rain; I won't know how this affects our drought until the California Department of Water Resources issues its March report sometime in April.

It appears that the latest sage (Salvia officinalis) cutting (25 Nov 14) is again a failure. The parent plant is still alive, but it does not look good. Also, I think the cold spell we had in December might have been too severe for my oregano (Origanum vulgare); I see nothing green in its pot.

Fed the roses with a commercial fertilizer that contains a systemic insecticide.

Weather data are from the Cheeseboro (CHE) weather station, about 2 miles ENE of my house.

The high temperature (°F) is daytime for the indicated date; the low temperature (°F) is for the previous night.

Winter chill is the cumulative hours of temperatures at or below 45°F from 1 November through 31 March. It is reported during that period and through April.

The relative humidity is at noon. (In my garden, it is likely higher than reported, a result of regular irrigation.)

Wind speeds (mph) are average (not peak) low and high, midnight to midnight (subject to later correction for diary entries posted before the end of the day). I also indicate peak wind gusts parenthetically when they are significantly high.

Rain is in inches. Season is the cumulative amount of rainfall from 1 October until 30 September of the following year. Week is the cumulative amount of measurable rainfall from noon seven days ago until noon of the indicated date. If no rain fell in that period, Days since last is reported.

Characterization of the weather (e.g., Clear, sunny, and warm) is purely subjective; for example, "warm" might occur with higher temperatures than "hot" if the former occurs with lower humidity and more breezes than the latter. Also, a day that would normally be characterized as "mild" might instead be "warm" if the immediately previous days were quite cold. Finally, such characterization reflects when I was actually outside and gardening and ignores changes that occur while I am inside.

The signature line I use when writing messages about my garden includes the following:

Climate: California Mediterranean
Sunset Zone: 21 -- interior Santa Monica Mountains with some ocean influence (USDA 10a, very close to Sunset Zone 19)
See also My Climate.
January-February 2015
November-December 2014
September-October 2014
July-August 2014
May-June 2014
March-April 2014
January-February 2014
November-December 2013
September-October 2013
July-August 2013
May-June 2013
March-April 2013
January-February 2013

Diary entries for 2004 through 2012


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